If you thought the market for Victoria rentals was tight, think again.
It's not. If landlords need to rent a unit, the price is likely being reduced. It's not uncommon to find listings on Craigslist and UsedVictoria with lines like: "available immediately" and "flexible move in dates" meaning the place is empty now and if you'll only agree to lease it for a year, we'll let you move in slowly this month until you vacate your present place.
It's a buyers' market in the rental pool and if you're a renter searching for a new place to call home for the next year or so, you should be negotiating that rent down. Heck, if you're a renter not currently under lease, you can likely negotiate your rent down under threat of moving on.
We rented our current house in July of this year. I had coffee with our landlord the other day and she asked me how we were enjoying the house. I told it her it has great character but it's tired and could really use an empty month of maintenance work to get it into better shape. She tried to strike a deal with me to get me to do the work for "free" if she paid for materials. I laughed out loud... damn near spat my coffee on my pants.
I said to her, "Why would I want to do that? My time is valuable and the labour part of the work will be your most costly expense. Are you offering to drop my rent?"
She said, "You're already getting a great deal. You're paying less than the previous tenants were."
I said, "This is your only rental property isn't it?"
"So you're probably not aware what's happening in the rental market so much then right?"
"I always look at what's online whenever I need to rent the place and make sure I'm in the right ballpark. That was back in July, it's only October now."
"Things are coming down," I said.
"We look fairly frequently and I need to tell you I'm tempted to start looking to see if we can find the same kind of place for less money or find more place for the same money."
"Really?" she asked. "I don't know how that's possible, I'm not making anything on the house each month off you. You only pay the hydro bill. I pay property tax, city water and garbage. You've got it pretty good."
"Seriously. There's lots out there and people are dropping their prices. We're tempted."
"Are you giving me notice then?"
"Not yet. But please don't confuse your costs on the house with what the rental rates should be. If we do decide to move, I won't make any decisions without talking to you first. If you want us to stay, we may be able to come to an agreement. But I won't sign a lease."
We started talking about other things. It was a friendly conversation and I think I caught her off guard. I like my landlord, we haven't had to deal with any real issues with the house but we never planned to stay in it too long and told her so when we agreed to move in. We negotiated on the rent and she took seven per cent off her original asking rent even though we refused to sign a one year lease. We verbally agreed to 6 months at $1400 per month and we'll respect that verbal agreement.
I have people close to me who are snowbirds. Each winter they head to warmth and usually try to rent their house out for four months or so. They recognize that most people don't want a short term furnished rental so they usually price it about 60 per cent of what a long term unfurnished place would rent for and be very picky with their tenants. This year, after two months of searching and nearing four weeks to departure they've given up hope. I got a call over the weekend offering us to move in, rent free, just pay the utilities and make sure the house is looked after. Four or 5 months of rent-free living will add over $5,600 to our down payment fund. We're tempted.